Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
When J. Gresham Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism (152 pages) in 1923 it was more than just a straightforward presentation of biblical Christianity. It was an expose´ of the liberal doctrinal drift in the Presbyterian Church. And, it was a clarion call for a return to the centrality of the “message” of the gospel as that which uniquely makes the Church Christian. When Machen published this little but powerful book it was received by many as controversial. He not only took issue with those who were distancing themselves from historic Christianity, but he defined their liberal teachings as “another religion,” fundamentally different from the true Christian faith. It was a doctrinal call-to-arms and his message remains not only relevant today, but necessary.
The book is divided into six chapters: Doctrine, God and Man, The Bible, Christ, Salvation, and The Church. Machen defines Christianity not as a moral way of life, an experience of God, or a means of the betterment of man. Rather, Christianity is about an event, something that happened in history. And it is about the meaning of that event. Throughout the book, Machen reinforces the good news that Jesus died to save sinners as the essence of the religion of the Bible.
Machen, as did the Reformers, calls men and women back to the message of Paul and the other apostles. It is the liberating message of the “blessed gospel of the Cross” which announces that God saves the ungodly apart from any works of their own. Indeed, it is by His grace alone through faith alone in our Savior Christ Jesus that we are both found and kept. Those who take the time to read Christianity and Liberalism will find clarity and comfort in Machen’s words as well as a convincing case for “another Reformation in God’s good time.”